Hendriks, Giolito reflect on time with White Sox in return to Chicago

June 7th, 2024

CHICAGO -- and were back at Guaranteed Rate Field on Thursday, where so many great individual memories took place as part of the White Sox for both of these classy pitchers.

Unfortunately the team success didn’t match those personal accolades during their extended period on the South Side. Yes, the White Sox won the 2021 American League Central title with Hendriks and Giolito contributing, and Giolito helped the White Sox go to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first in franchise history ('20-'21).

But in the organization’s competitive window following its rebuild, the team managed just two playoff victories in total. Now Hendriks and Giolito are part of the Red Sox, both rehabbing from Tommy John surgeries, and reliving what might have been in Chicago.

“Obviously, I signed with the intention of it being a long-term window of contention and it didn't quite come to that way,” Hendriks said before Chicago's 14-2 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday. “It's unfortunate because you've got to take it on the chin. You've got to realize that I was part of that. It wasn't that guy, it wasn't this guy, it was that united group and we failed. We failed the city. We failed the front office. We failed everyone around. We failed the fan base. It's a tough pill to swallow.”

“I just try to treat everybody with respect. So I'm not going to sit here and name any names or anything like that,” Giolito said. “I know the question gets asked, "Why did this happen? Why did it not come together?" Sometimes, it just doesn't, you know? But at the same time, it is what it is. You know, we all move on. There's always another day.”

The 2023 campaign was a strange one for Giolito, who came to Spring Training built up for a successful season on the mound for a team expected to contend for the postseason. When things went far south within this group, Giolito was traded to the Angels in a deal sending catcher Edgar Quero (No. 4 White Sox prospect, per MLB Pipeline) and left-hander Ky Bush (No. 17 White Sox prospect) back to the White Sox. He ended the season as part of the Guardians via a waiver claim on Aug. 31.

Hendriks had a greatly celebrated victory over non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and triumphantly returned to the mound on May 29, 2023, against the Angels, working in five games (of which the White Sox won four) before being shut down. After being part of last season’s underwhelming 61-101 performance, they are watching from afar with this present 15-47 misery, but thinking a foundation is being built for a stronger future.

“So far, it's like the vibes in there are great,” Hendriks said. “Unfortunately, the wins aren't exactly coming as expected, but it's a better clubhouse to be around than it was last year. That's the first step. You've got to get good people around to get the right kind of mentality coming in and everything will grow from there.”

“Part of me is always going to root for the team, just because I was here for so long,” Giolito said. “It's tough to see the record and everything like that, but at the same time, it's a process of I don't know if they're labeling it a rebuild, I don't know what they're saying. It's just that kind of situation you have to go through, that low period, to start to chisel away and figure things out.”

From 2021-23 with the White Sox, Hendriks recorded 76 saves, was a two-time All-Star, was named the ‘21 Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year and was a three-time Roberto Clemente Award nominee. He also was named the ‘23 AL Comeback Player of the Year. Giolito posted a 59-52 record with a 4.20 ERA from 2017-23 with the White Sox, striking out 200-plus batters three times and threw a no-hitter on Aug. 25, 2020, against Pittsburgh.

They were recognized by the team before the bottom of the second inning during Thursday’s series opener. Good memories, for certain, with a strong side of what could have been.

“That's the one, I guess, regret that I think back on our times, is we went through that period and then we have that window where we could have really done something special. We just didn't capitalize on it,” Giolito said. “It's always something I"m going to look back on and be like, ‘Damn, I wish we could have done that.’”